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View Full Version : Using video monitors in a Toaster multicam production.



Trulsi
02-19-2003, 05:00 PM
Hi there!

I work for a local Student's TV-station here in Norway, and every now and then we do a multicam production with live streaming, or taping for later broadcast.

The old mixer has too few inputs, and we are looking into getting something new. As a Lightwave user, I am trying to "sell" the Toaster to my friends at the TV-station. There are a few problems:

1: Price. With a good computer to put the toaster in, as well as the SX-8 module, the whole thing costs as much as the 8-input mixer described here: Panasonic MX70 mixer (http://www.panasonic.com/PBDS/subcat/Products/switch_mix_comp/f_ag-mx70.html ) (but what is 2-BUS? I've got a bad feeling about that) And if we are going to buy the RS-8 panel, it gets even more expensive ($995 or something, right?)... I know the toaster has loads of advantages, but the biggest disadvantage (as my narrow-minded analogue friends se it;-) is the next point:

2: The toaster goes in a PC. Our organization has a high throughput of members, and many newbies are thrown right into the thick of it without any prior experience. Seems more risky to put a toaster system in front of them instead of a regular mixer, which is easily reset in case of a wrong keypress. Computers hang up and suffer performance hits every now and then. We do some well-paid multicam productions every now and then (with our most experienced members at the controls), and a computer hangup could mean a serious dent to our reputation.

3: This is where I need your help. We want a monitor for each input. I don't know much about how coax and bnc works, so in ignorance I tried using T-connectors on our old mixer, so that I could get another stretch of cable up to the monitor. However, this gave a weakened signal. The solution then was to use the separate monitor outputs on our cams, but, if we for some reason (lack of cable, for example) would like to avoid that, what options are there with a toaster system? We don't consider 8 small previews on a computer monitor an option.

I hope you can share some of your monitor experiences with me:-)

ScorpioProd
02-19-2003, 07:28 PM
Well, I'll address your third point:

The "8 small previews on a computer screen" is not actually possible with Toaster.

You ONLY can see PREVIEW and PROGRAM on the computer monitor. As in TWO sources.

You need to think of the Toaster as a multi-stage switcher. Though the SX-8 BOB has TONS of inputs, IT switches them internally only giving the Toaster card TWO inputs.

To watch all your inputs at once, you really need to T connect them and have part of it go to your real preview monitors. If the input is terminated properly, you really shouldn't see a weaker signal for a single split like that.

If you T'd them at the BOB, you would turn off the termination on the BOB and turn it on on your monitor. Vice versa if you did it the opposite way.

Trulsi
02-20-2003, 04:59 AM
Thanks alot! I just couldn't believe that T-connectors couldn't be used for video signals, so this was good news indeed. I think I'll play around a bit with this on the old mixer and se if I can get in control of the termination.

Also, I should have understood that the toaster only has two inputs. D1 uncompressed is pretty high-bandwidt, and taking in 8 (or 24 for that matter) signals, scaling them, and then getting them off to the graphics card seems a bit too much. If we can have a monitor for each input, it really doesn't matter anyways.

Again, thanks alot, ScorpioProd!

And one more thing: What is this "2-BUS" on the Panasonic mixer I mentioned?

PIZAZZ
02-24-2003, 09:20 AM
We actually do quite a bit of live switching with a VideoToaster system or two. We actually sell the majority of our Toaster systems into live switching environments such as schools and churches.

Using BNC Tees is not actually the best idea. If you have any kind of semi professional video monitors then you should have a loop thru on the back. Go from your cameras and decks to the monitors and then to the switcher. Tees are for only quick and dirty fixes not for permanent use.

The concept of a 2 bus switcher is that you would have video on an A bus and a B bus on a Panasonic MX70. This would allow you to fade or transition from bus to bus. Some larger video switchers actually will have 3, 4, or even 5 busses to facilitate more advanced switching of multiple inputs.

I would be glad to help answer any questions you might have just send me an email at:

jef at pizazzproductions dot com

Trulsi
02-25-2003, 06:17 PM
Thanks Jef:-)

Don't remember if our monitors have a loop thru, I will have to check that out. Been a while since the multi-cam production I took part in, but I somehow suspect that there was no loop-through, since we tried the tees. We have a bunch of cheap 14-inch composite monitors that for some reason won't stand firm on a flat desk, they start rocking at the slightest touch. Quite scary, actually, because when a monitor starts rocking, I tend to think it's about to fall down from the desk. Oh well... I like our small (9-inch or so) JVC box-case monitor better:-)

So 2 busses means that you have two buses with a preview and a program each, and that you can actually sort of super-mix these two to decide which signal becomes the final program output? Strange concept, but I can see that you could go pretty far with it.

Thanks ever so much for your helpfulness! From what I have seen so far it seems like the toaster community has a lot in common with the famous lightwave community:-) I will be sure to let you know if I have any questions.

---update---

I just checked the monitors, and they have a loop-through. But I also found out why we used tees. We were streaming directly from two cameras, which meant we not only needed to take the signal through the monitor to the mixer, but we also had to take it to a streaming computer.

---update---

JReble
02-26-2003, 03:01 PM
I've got lots of experience in the areas you're dealing with here and I've got Panasonic's predecessor 4 input version of the switcher you speak of, so here goes....

The deal with the 2 Bus thing is this...It's a marketing 101 way of saying the switcher only handles two video signals at any one time. As it happens this is the same with the Toaster even with the B.O.B. and it's not necessarily a bad thing. What both systems do is route the video signal you have in program and the signal you have in preview through the signal processors so that they are synced together and you can transistion between them. While this is goin on, any other signals you have connected to the unit are essentially ignored until you select an alternate signal to be utilized in program or preview.

This is a little limiting because you can't do much beyond a standard A to B transistion with your video sources and that includes any key video you may want to use. (normally can't dissolve from one camera to a chroma key scene over video for example.) The good news is that only 5 - 10% of the time will you ever need more than two live signals manipulated at the same time. Also, in these "2 bus" systems, whatever two signals you are utilizing at any given time are "synced" up for use and therefore, none of the many signals you connect to the switcher need to be genlocked or time base corrected. It's essentially two time base correctors that each have 8 selectable inputs and a video mixer to go between the two time base correctors for 2 channel effects. When you're on a tight budget and have inexperienced users, that's a very good thing since it's about as close to plug and play as you can get.

Now about those inexperienced users......you're absolutely right, the panasonic hardware switcher would be much more user friendly. The trade off is that it's really only good for switching, dissolving, and wiping between shots. For that it's fine, it connects easily, and is about as reliable as you can get. All the other little bells and whistles in those models are largely useless and you're limited to composite or y/c connections.

With the Toaster, you get pretty much everything you would need for live switching and post production in addition to some nice graphics and effects.

My advice is this....Get a toaster system for switching and editing in a fixed location such as your studio and make users learn it before they try to use it. For any field switching and event setups, definitely use the panasonic switcher which almost any moron can operate. You can always use the panasonic with, or next to your Toaster when required. In your case I would strongly suggest both. If it meets your field switching requirements you might look to pickup a used panasonic MX-50 (4 input version) so you can horde some money for a Toaster system. You would get much more use in the long run from a Toaster, but only for those that know how to use it.

Trulsi
02-26-2003, 04:23 PM
JReble,

Thanks for some great advice and a thorough explanation of what 2-bus is! We already have a four input switcher, and we usually have to borrow another to get our usual three or four cam plus CG and VTR playback setup working. That's why we are going to get a new system, and we probably should choose the Panasonic, for all the reasons you mentioned:-)

Also, from an economic point of view, there is not much difference between getting the panasonic switcher and getting a toaster system. However, the toaster is so tempting that all the members of Student-TV who have had a peek at Newtek's website are willing to throw reason and common sense out the window.

Still our multi-cam productions are usually well-planned, and whoever is to operate the switcher could probably get a couple of nights of instruction in advance. If we buy the toaster we will definitely buy the RS-8 as well, and we usually have quite an experienced computer operator at the streaming computer. If he could operate the streaming and toaster CG, I guess the switch operator won't have to touch much but the RS-8.

Paul Lara
02-26-2003, 05:13 PM
Originally posted by Trulsi
...from an economic point of view, there is not much difference between getting the panasonic switcher and getting a toaster system.

...except for the reality that the Panasonic can only mix video signals, where Video Toaster can also:

Edit
Paint
Rotoscope
Title
Animate
Chromakey
Layer
Move
Motivate. . .


...and that's got to have SOME 'value' to it. :p

Trulsi
02-26-2003, 05:51 PM
I am painfully aware of that:-( But the big advantage of an old-style switcher is like JReble says, reliability and foolproofness.

But I want a toaster...

Faraz
02-26-2003, 06:25 PM
It's not as hard to learn as many people think. I use to doa very simple 10 minute production every day, we had 8 or 9 sources hooked in. Used 2 DDRs and did 4 or 5 CG pages. Very simple. BUT we had Middle Schoolers 6-8 using the Toaster, they would jump on and had 30 minutes to learn it. Then we go live. I know our production is lot more simple, but we had no clue what we were doing, a lot of us didn't know the difference of audio from video but we learned. Everyday there was a new operator, and this was a club so students voluntered their time. We replaced a really crappy Videonics 4 input switcher.

Trulsi
02-26-2003, 07:16 PM
Wow. There is hope.

Tod Cole
02-26-2003, 07:57 PM
Man let me tell you I use it every day for live events and it smokes my old panasonic-dino equipment. Not a day goes by I dont say "thanks Newtek for all in one box." You can make the switch so easily. Get to a dealer and do a demo? I dont know if that is possible where you are but you will not regret it!
:o

Jim Capillo
02-26-2003, 08:14 PM
We've got one of those Panasonic switchers (I think it is a -20) at City Hall for the Council Meetings. IMHO, the thing is a piece of junk - it won't even do a cut from camera to camera without a sync glitch in the picture. A dissolve cut way down (very quick) solves that problem and almost looks like a cut, but you'd think for the money they charge and the name that's selling it that they would get it right.......

We almost bought a MX-70 for another application, but I think we are going to go with the Synergy switcher and hopefully a T2 for an edit suite :cool:

JReble
02-27-2003, 05:56 AM
Jim's right. The panasonic video mixers can only transistion from A channel to B channel. Cuts on the program channel result in a brief frame freeze type of glitch. I hear tell that the new one doesn't do this but who's to say? The thing that made that tolerable is that the 4 input switcher cost about the same price as a decent dual channel TBC which it serves as in addition to the video mixer. The bigger 8 input unit however, costs considerably more and it essentially only adds more inputs to the two routers it syncs up. I've always wondered why they didn't have 8 inputs in the first model, but I guess they would have to do away with some of the buttons that are never used. :rolleyes:

If it weren't for the fact that the panasonic units are the best quality in it's type (which isn't saying much), simple, one-piece, portable hardware switchers out there to fit those nitch applications, they wouldn't be worth the money. I keep hoping someone will come to their senses and develop a simpler unit that is half the size, better quality and cuts out all those dumb extra features that make the units so big. While they're at it they should also include Hue, Luminance, Setup, and Chroma controls so you can balance the two channels yourself as they seldom match from the factory. (Jim you ever figure our how to set A&B to match properly?) I just want to mix video in the field. Keep all the silly crap out of there. I know there's a significant market for this out here when crap like those Videonics are selling for genuine "on air" use when they were targeted to low end wedding type stuff and hobbyists.

Again, if you're going to be using your system in a fixed location that can be hardwired I'd bite the bullet and get a Toaster. You'll get lots more for the same money and you can deliver a genuine quality video signal if you know what you're doing. For your field work you could still utilize the 4 input switcher that you already have by connecting a small video router to one of the inputs. Then you would have 3 fixed inputs and the forth could be whatever you have punched up on the external router giving you plenty of room for vtr's etc. A 4 to 8 input router can be had for under $500. Check out Markertek.com for them.

Trulsi
02-27-2003, 05:19 PM
Using a router seems like an idea to consider, I will certainly mention it to the others:-) Cheap alternative... Plus it could give me more time to convince them to buy a toaster instead of an MX-70 switcher...

Tod Cole
02-27-2003, 07:53 PM
I guess for a bunch of college kids a mx 70 is ok. We have a guy here that uses the toaster at the FSU Television dept. I met him a while back. He could probably tell you the advantages besides the mx70 is only a switcher.:rolleyes:

Trulsi
02-28-2003, 05:50 AM
I am well aware of the advantages of using a toaster, but there are a lot of things about it we won't need. Still the way it is now we have a separate streaming computer (dual AMD 1800+ or something, with an Osprey 200 card) as well as a separate CG computer (running powerpoint, actually) and a DSR 40. Getting all that in one box is for us one of the best things about getting a toaster.

"Bunch of college kids"? Well I guess you could call us that, but our productions often surpass those of the local television channel here; and few institutions (possibly none) send so many people to television and film school in Norway as we do.

Chances are, however, that our members will be operating old-style mixers if they are lucky enough to get a broadcast-related job. Those are, as you say, easy to operate, and people don't really need much training to get the hang of it. If we instead choose to teach them the toaster, it could have an impact on the future choices of production companies and TV-channels here in Norway.

The conclusion is: Newtek would be wise to send us a complimentary toaster.



Ehh. Well there's no harm in trying:-)